Harold Bulkley Erdman of Princeton, N.J., and Edgartown, died peacefully on Jan. 6 surrounded by his family. He was 88.
Harold was born on May 2, 1925 in Englewood, N.J., to Dr. Charles R. Erdman Jr. and Lucy B. Erdman. His father was a professor of political science at Princeton University, two-term mayor of Princeton Borough, commissioner of Economic Development for the state of New Jersey and a champion collegiate hurdler. Harold was the grandson of Edwin M. and Lucy K. Bulkley and Dr. Charles R. and Estelle P. Erdman. Mr. Bulkley was a partner at Spencer Trask and Company and Dr. Erdman was a professor at the Princeton Theological Seminary, pastor of the Nassau Presbyterian Church and moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church.
Harold attended Miss Fine’s School, Princeton Country Day School and the Lawrenceville School, where he was president of his class and graduated cum laude in 1942. He attended Princeton University for one year before transferring to Yale University’s accelerated ’45W class for future World War II servicemen, where he earned a degree in mechanical engineering and began his lifelong membership in the St. Anthony Hall fraternity. After attending Columbia University Midshipmen’s School, he was commissioned ensign in the U.S. Navy and served as navigator on a troop transport ship, crossing the Pacific five times and returning thousands of soldiers to San Francisco during the months following the end of the war.
Harold then moved to New York city where he met his beautiful wife, Judy Peck, whom he married in 1948. He worked at Spencer Trask and Company and then at Reynolds Aluminum. In 1954 Harold cofounded New Jersey Aluminum Company, and served as president while the firm grew to 1,800 employees with plants in New Brunswick, N.J., Winton, N.C., Ahoskie, N.C., Arizona, Texas and California. The company became the world’s largest supplier of coaxial cable sheathing to the cable television industry. He served as a director of Pardee Resources Company in Philadelphia, Penn., from 1968 to 1997, and as chairman of Amerlite in Atlanta, Ga., from 1986 to 1990.
Harold had a lifelong love of sports, especially ice hockey. While at Yale he was high scorer on the varsity hockey squad and after graduating, coached the Yale freshmen hockey team to their first undefeated season. He was selected for the 1948 U.S. Olympic hockey team, but was later deemed ineligible due to his professional status as a Yale coach. He was a member of the St. Nicholas Hockey Club in New York city for three years and a lifetime fan of the New York Rangers. He learned to play hockey growing up in Princeton and later cofounded and coached the Princeton Pee Wee Hockey League, teaching the wonderful game of ice hockey to hundreds of boys. In 2005 he was inducted into the Princeton Day School Athletic Hall of Fame.
Harold was a summer resident of Martha’s Vineyard since his family started visiting in 1927. Spending summers on the water, he taught his children and grandchildren and extended family the love of water skiing, fishing and sailing. He named his water ski boat, the Ranger, after his favorite hockey team. He loved the Edgartown Yacht Club, both for its yachting and tennis, and later enjoyed spending time with friends at the Edgartown Reading Room. When not on the Vineyard, he treasured his time spent at the Pretty Brook Tennis Club in Princeton, often playing mixed doubles with Judy. He also enjoyed playing the piano, singing Dixieland jazz tunes and listening to his favorite musician, Louis Armstrong.
Harold was a generous supporter of his community and alma maters. He was trustee of Princeton Day School and trustee emeritus of the Lawrenceville School, treasurer and trustee of the Center of Theological Inquiry, chairman of the Princeton Republican finance committee, vice chairman of the Princeton zoning board, deacon of Nassau Presbyterian Church, and chairman of the Princeton cemetery committee. He was voted outstanding alumnus of the Lawrenceville School in 1998, and was a driving force behind Lawrenceville’s 1942 athletic field. He served as treasurer, reunion chairman and honored member of Princeton’s Class of 1946.
Of all of his business, athletic and philanthropic accomplishments, he was most proud and supportive of his family. He was a devoted husband, father, uncle, brother and grandfather. He is survived by his loving and supportive wife of 65 years, Judy Erdman; their four children, Guy Erdman, Fred Erdman and his wife Cindy, Jody Erdman and Carl Erdman and his wife Debra; nine grandchildren; his brothers Charlie, Peter, David and Michael, and their families, including 14 children and 25 grandchildren.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 18 at the Nassau Presbyterian Church in Princeton, N.J., with a lunch reception to follow at the Nassau Club, 6 Mercer street, in Princeton.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Lawrenceville School Hockey Tournament, c/o Michael Goldenberg, The Lawrenceville School, 2500 Main street, Lawrenceville, N.J., 08648, and the Princeton Area Community Foundation, 15 Princess Road, Lawrenceville, N.J., 08648.